Terrence Howard broke down in tears over the loss of his TV son Jussie Smollett on the final season of Empire in an interview that aired on Tuesday, September 24.
The 50-year-old actor became emotional while speaking with Extra‘s Billy Bush about Smollett’s early departure from the Fox series.
“Jussie has been the heart of the show. He’s been my son for six years and I miss my son,” he said before tearing up.
“We can’t help it,” he explained about his emotional state. “This is real life that we’re talking about.”
In January, Smollett, who portrayed Jamal Lyon since the beginning of the show, claimed he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago. In March, the actor, 37, was indicted by a grand jury on 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report. He pleaded not guilty and all charges were later dropped. The FBI is currently investigating why the charges were dismissed. The City of Chicago filed a lawsuit against the actor seeking $130,000 in reimbursement to cover investigation fees from the case. Smollett has stated he has no plans to pay.
Jamal was written out of the last two episodes of season 5. Fans last saw Jamal getting married to journalist Kai Givens (Toby Onwumere). The character was absent from the final two episodes because he was on his honeymoon.
Empire co-creator Lee Daniels announced in June that Smollett would not return to the series’ final season.
In the season 6 premiere on Tuesday, September 24, Jamal’s permanent exit from the show was referenced. In a scene between Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and Becky (Gabourey Sidibe), who was wearing a onesie, Becky recalled wearing similar pajamas on sleepovers with Jamal.
“No wonder that boy ran off to London,” Cookie joked.
“I thought he was running away from Lyon drama. I really miss him,” Becky responded.
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“Please don’t get me started. I miss him so much,” Cookie said.
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